Youth homelessness figure eight times higher than Government admits, says charity

Exclusive: 136,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 in England and Wales sought emergency housing in the past year

The full extent of youth homelessness is more than eight times higher than the Government admits, according to a new report.

Some 136,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 in England and Wales sought emergency housing in the past year. The figure is based on an analysis by the Centrepoint charity of 275 Freedom of Information responses from local authorities. In stark contrast, only 16,000 young people were officially classed as “statutory homeless” – which would mean councils had a legal duty to house them – according to the report.

Worryingly, some 30,000 of those seeking help were turned away with little if any support. And as many as 90,000 were only offered support such as family mediation, to help them stay at home, or debt advice. This means the vast majority of those going for help are not getting the full assistance they’d be entitled to if they were officially accepted as being homeless.

“The most alarming aspect to these findings is that it is very likely they are a significant underestimate – many of the local authorities where youth homelessness is most prevalent did not respond to our Freedom of Information requests,” said Gaia Marcus, who runs Centrepoint’s youth homelessness databank.

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Homeless Crisis: Number of homeless people in Stockport almost triples in 12 months

Stockport homeless charity The Wellspring revealed that in 2013 they supported 124 known homeless people, and in 2014 this had risen to 340 – a rise of 174 per cent. This figure is expected to rise again this year.

A number of issues have been cited including welfare cuts and the housing shortage, as well as the availability of legal highs which many have turned to in their time of crisis.

Critics are also concerned about the upcoming scrapping of housing benefits for people under the age of 21 and sales of the most expensive council houses in the town, a scheme under which Stockport will be the most affected borough in the north west.
Jonathan Billings, project manager for The Wellspring, said: “In the last few years we have noticed an increase at The Wellspring and unfortunately this is the situation in most of the towns and cities across the UK.

“We have had to deal with at least a doubling in numbers and rely on donations from the generous community. We are trying to do the best we can to support the already homeless in Stockport and prevent more residents from ending up at this point.”

Jonathan also expressed fears that many of the charity’s clients are under 21 and rely on the housing benefits which are set to be scrapped.

Campbell Robb, chief executive at national homeless charity Shelter, added: “Deeper cuts to welfare will do no more than add fuel to the fire of this growing crisis.

“The only way for the government to break the cycle of homelessness is to invest in building homes that people on lower incomes can actually afford.”

Tragically, many have died on the streets of Stockport, including Stefan Tomkins, 31, who was crushed to death after the dustbin he was sleeping in was loaded onto a bin lorry

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Manchester: Homeless people face jail over city centre tent camps.

A group of homeless people in Manchester face jail after pitching tents in the city centre, the latest episode in a long-running battle between the council and an ever increasing number of rough sleepers.

Six men and one woman are due in court in Manchester on Wednesday, accused of breaking a court order brought by Manchester city council and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). This injunction aims to prevent anyone from pitching a tent in the city to protest against the council’s homelessness policies.

The defendants insist they are innocent and that they were not protesting but simply living on the streets as comfortably as they could. The council sees it differently, accusing them of disrupting residents and businesses in the city centre via vandalism, intimidation and public urination. If the defendants lose they face a fine of up to £5,000 or two years in prison.

Some of those named in the court action had been living for over a month in a makeshift homeless centre dubbed the Ark, underneath the Mancunian Way flyover on Oxford Road on land leased by MMU.

Just one of a number of camps which will greet delegates at this weekend’s Tory party conference in the city, the Ark had portable toilets and a TV powered by a generator, as well as furniture and camp beds donated by the general public. A sign out front declared: “This is not a protest.”

The Ark was cleared by bailiffs on 18 September after the MMU and the council obtained a court order. It followed clearances at other tent camps across the city, including outside the Central Library, in the busy shopping area around St Ann’s Square and by Castlefield nightlife district.

On 3 August the council obtained an unusually wide-reaching injunction from Manchester county court. This stated: “Persons are forbidden from erecting and/or occupying tents or any other moveable temporary forms of accommodation for the purposes of or in connection with protests or similar events arising from or connected with the [council’s] homeless policy” within prescribed city limits.

Following the Ark eviction, the university subsequently erected fences around the dry spot under the bridge where homeless people have slept ever since the flyover was built 50 years ago.

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Tragedy as baby who slept in car with homeless parents dies

A BABY forced to sleep in a car with his homeless parents has died.

A BABY forced to sleep in a car with his homeless parents has died.

Donald, who was born prematurely at Poole Hospital, was just two-months-old when he passed away.

He and his parents featured in the Daily Echo in July when they spoke about their struggle to find a home in the Bournemouth area.

 The cause of Donald’s death is not known at this time.

The family’s plight was originally highlighted by Claire Matthews, who runs the Hope for Food soup kitchen in Bournemouth. Claire contacted the Echo to say Donald had died and said his parents, now living in Kent, were “grief-stricken.”

 “They are in a very dark place at the moment, they have nothing to live for now,” she said.

Claire, whose organisation has offered to help pay for Donald’s funeral, said the parents did not want to talk more about the circumstances of his loss at this time.

The couple are understood to be living in a bed and breakfast and have yet to find permanent housing.

In July, they said they were unable to find enough money for a deposit and had stayed at a Boscombe bed and breakfast for a couple of nights, and had also slept in their car.

They said they felt let down by local councils.

 Both Poole Borough Council and East Dorset District Council were contacted for comment after it emerged the mum had contacted their housing departments for help in the past. A spokesman for East Dorset said they had never received any requests to re-home the family. requests to re-home the family.

Poole Borough Council confirmed their housing officers had spoken to the couple, and had offered advice and support, but were unable to help because she was based in Verwood at the time of her inquiry.

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Wheelchair bound disabled man – ‘I’m living in a bin cupboard’

A wheelchair-bound man who lives in a bin cupboard has spent more than two weeks in a hospital bed because the council cannot house him.

Homeless Connor Edwards, 44, was admitted after taking an overdose because he could not bear life on the streets.

Kind-hearted hospital staff allowed him to stay in the hope Milton Keynes Council would find him accommodation. But this week, desperately in need of his bed, they had no choice but to load him and his wheelchair into a taxi and pay for him to be deposited at the council’s housing office.

 As the Citizen went to press, Connor had no idea if he would have a roof over his head. He said: “I’m scared. I’ve spent six months living rough. My only home is a bin cupboard in the service area outside John Lewis.

“I’m gay, and because of that the other homeless people pick on me. I’ve been mugged twice and had all my possessions stolen.”

A former software trainer, Connor lost his job when his legs were paralysed due to diabetic neuropathy. He was evicted from his Wolverton council house 18 months ago after getting into rent arrears due to bedroom tax demands.

“The council has put me into bed and breakfast accommodation twice, but each time I’ve been forced to leave and go back on the streets,” he said. “Because I’m not mentally ill and I’m not a drug user or alcoholic, I don’t have enough priority points for them to allocate me a house.”

Connor cannot claim benefits because he has no address. But he refuses to beg for money.

“I survive thanks to the Salvation Army soup runs and going through bins to eat peoples’ left-over takeaway food. I pick up cigarette butts and unpick them to make my roll-ups,” he said.

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Housing crisis forces disabled couple and 4-year-old daughter into hotel at motorway services

A disabled couple and their four year-old daughter are stranded in a motorway service station hotel because a council cannot find another home for them.

Janet Paddison, 23, and her partner and young girl were made homeless when their landlord decided to sell their rented property.

They looked for homes in the private sector but said no one was prepared to accept her assistance dog or housing benefit supplements………………………..

Rhys and Janet are both unable to drive due to their disabilities, leaving them stranded on the motorway in Bedfordshire…………………

They say they have been left unable to wash their clothes and Janet’s assistance dog has had to be put in kennels.

Janet said: “I’ve had a really bad experience with the council. It feels like some of my human rights have been violated.

“We don’t know what we can do. No one seems to care.”

Breakfast is provided for the family at the hotel – where rooms cost £65 a night – but the couple say the food prices are extortionate and they have no cooking facilities.

Janet says she has not been told how long they will be at the services.

If they have not found a new home locally by September her daughter will not be able to take up her new place at primary school.

Luton Borough Council said their “severe housing shortage” is down to landlords demanding rents higher than can be covered by Housing Benefits and competition from London authorities.

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Family made homeless by benefit cap was unlawfully barred from housing list by Tory council, court rules

A Conservative-controlled council unlawfully blocked a family made homeless by the benefit cap from getting social housing, a court has found.

The High Court said Westminster City Council was wrong to bar the anonymous family from applying for a home in the borough where they lived.

The plaintiff, known as “Ms A” had lost her family home in Westminster after the benefit cap meant she could no longer afford her rent.

The council, which has a legal duty to house homeless families, shipped Ms A’s family miles out of the borough to Enfield and said they could not reapply for a home in their own neighbourhood least 12 months.

But the High Court ruled that this suspension was unlawful.

“This landmark ruling makes it abundantly clear that homeless people have the right to bid for social housing from the time they secure a full housing duty from a local authority rather than being suspended for one year,” said Jayesh Kunwardia, a lawyer at Hodge Jones & Allen.

“Westminster’s subtle way of registering the homeless, saying they will have points but denying them the right to bid for 12 months is now deemed unlawful.”

Last month welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith described the cap which made the family in this case homeless as “social justice in action”.

“Welfare reform is improving social mobility for families across the country,” he argued in an article for the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

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